Indiana CPA Firm Featured in International Publication

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Award-Winning Article Examines Kruggel Lawton CPAs' Transformation

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It was the right thing at the right time for our firm. It energized our staff, made us more transparent, and provided us with a blueprint for developing future leaders and keeping the firm relevant and vibrant into the future.

Northern Indiana headquartered CPA firm Kruggel Lawton CPAs has made an international name for itself. The firm, which was founded in 1956 and has three offices in South Bend, Ind., Elkhart, Ind., and St. Joseph, Mich., was the subject of an award-winning article recently published by the Chartered Management Institute. CMI is an accredited institution for management professionals based in the United Kingdom.

Co-written by David Griffiths, Ph.D., and Maggie Inman, Ph.D., the article is titled "High performance workplaces: a practical approach to managing complexity and coping with change." It was submitted to CMI and ultimately selected as CMI's top Management Article of the Year for 2016. CMI began a management articles competition in 2011, and annually recognizes five winning articles each year. Articles are selected based on the concepts, approach and methods used in implementing successful management techniques. The award-winning article was based on work Griffiths did with Kruggel Lawton CPAs.

Griffiths, an internationally-recognized thought-leader in talent management and knowledge sharing based in Wales, has been an advisor to the Indiana CPA Society since 2012. He has been instrumental in the development, establishment and growth of the CPA Center of Excellence®, which utilizes competency-based learning and intelligent collaboration to enhance critical business skills of CPAs and other professionals, and improve talent management processes of CPA firms and other businesses.

The award received from the article is just one of several awards received by the CPA Center of Excellence® in only two years of existence. In 2014, it received a STAR Award from the Indiana Society of Association Executives as the Outstanding Individual Program. In 2015, its first printed publication was named to Accounting Today's Summer Reading List for Accountants. And in 2016, its online skill assessment toolkit was named as a Top New Product, also by Accounting Today.

Griffiths made multiple trips to South Bend to work extensively with Kruggel Lawton CPAs for a full year from the summer of 2013 to the summer of 2014. The engagement was part of an effort to transform the firm's business processes and structure, from its human resources methods to its hierarchy. Like many firms, Kruggel Lawton CPAs was facing a variety of business challenges due to complexity, demographic shifts and new client demands. In partnership with Griffiths, Kruggel Lawton embarked on a journey to reinvent its culture and remake its mission, vision, values and standards to remain relevant and successful. Firm goals were also established.

"I believe it was the right thing at the right time for our firm. It energized our staff, made us more transparent, and provided us with a blueprint for developing future leaders and keeping the firm relevant and vibrant into the future," said Kevin Kruggel, CPA, CGMA, a partner at the firm and son of firm founder Herm Kruggel. "Using our firm values and continuing to probe the environment for new trends and ideas, we will harness our innovative spirit to do those things that will help our clients and our team members achieve success."

The year-long effort was referred to as the Clarity Project (or KLarity Project using the K and L for Kruggel Lawton). It involved the formation of what was called the Frontier Team, a 12-person group that represented a cross-section of the firm's employees at all levels. Kruggel Lawton CPAs is a firm with 10 partners and nearly 80 total staff. The team met regularly throughout the project (and still exists today) and served as the leadership body that reshaped the firm's strategy - by using ongoing feedback from other staff and environmental scanning.

"The Frontier Team remains active and vital," said Kruggel Lawton CPAs Managing Partner Barry Hall, CPA, CGMA. "We rotate two-year terms on the team, so more staff members get to experience being part of the team. Moving forward with our original goals, we continue to be more organized along industry and service niches. This has helped us to develop our expertise on a deeper level which in turn brings more opportunities with prospective clients.

"Our mission and values are prominently displayed in each of our offices and our staff members do hold each other accountable to those values," added Hall.

The article does not mention Kruggel Lawton CPAs by name, but provides an in-depth look into the aspects and obstacles of the project from the advisor's perspective. It details the practical approaches that Griffiths and the Frontier Team used in managing complexity and coping with change, and in the end, achieving success in transforming the firm into one that is transparent, adaptive, dynamic, and perhaps most important, attractive to not only new hires but current staff. Effective succession planning was another key result of the process.

"Employee engagement and employee involvement are critical to winning the talent war," said Griffiths, founder of K3-Cubed Ltd., a company that specializes in knowledge management, business agility and human resource development. "All firms are focused on business improvement in areas of time quality and cost. But the firms to watch are those that understand the alignment among people, purpose and potential. This case study shows firms how to evolve firm culture through new processes and structures that best-fit the way Millennials work."

According to Griffiths, the methods used in his work with the Frontier Team are highly transferable and were proven to be successful. The article serves as a case study that shows what other organizations can accomplish through work on a similar project.

In addition to the CMI article, Kruggel Lawton CPAs' Clarity Project was also described in an article and a video from the Indiana CPA Society titled "The Kruggel Lawton Story."



The CPA Center of Excellence® is a start-up business that provides leadership, best practices, research, support and training in the area of critical business skills for professionals, especially CPAs. It has five main components. The Insight HR & Career Development Toolkit, the handbook CPA Excellence A Quick Start Guide to Defining and Mastering Vital Skills for Success, a series of online interactive courses in vital business skills, a multi-featured online community, and member networks in which CPA colleagues interact with each other in person and online.

The components complement each other but are also beneficial when used separately. The toolkit is the starting point. The book then is a planning guide and framework for human resource strategies that contribute to talent development in non-technical skills such as communications and critical thinking. The online interactive courses have elements of social, competency-based, interactive and on-demand learning, and the knowledge they develop supports the rest of system. The online community and member networks enable CPAs to share knowledge and further develop skills.

The CPA Center of Excellence, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana CPA Society. Its products and services are relevant to CPAs not only in Indiana, but throughout the United States, as well as to accounting professionals globally.

For more information about the CPA Center of Excellence®, contact Jess Halverson Bowyer, strategist - CPA Center of Excellence®, at (317) 726-5027 or jess(at)cpacoe(dot)com, or go to Indiana CPA Society President & CEO Gary Bolinger, CAE, is also available for interviews by contacting Dave Shatkowski at (317) 726-5022 or dshatkowski(at)incpas(dot)org.

Contact: Dave Shatkowski, Indiana CPA Society
Phone: (317) 726-5022
Email: dshatkowski(at)incpas(dot)org

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